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Statement of Ernie Harburg on 'Ding Dong' and Thatcher's Passing

17/04/2013 10:49 BST | Updated 16/06/2013 10:12 BST

Ernie Harburg is the son of the late Yip Harburg - the lyricist of "DIng Dong! The Witch Is Dead" (and all the songs in the "Wizard Of Oz") - and President of the Yip Harburg Foundation. He has released a statement passed on through Ian Baldry, the creator of the facebook campaign to make the track number one. Yip suffered heavily for his ideals. He was grilled by the US Congress House Un-American Activities Committee and blacklisted from working in Hollywood for a decade from 1950, ten years after winning a "Best Music, Original Song" Oscar for "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz. In 2005, the US Postal service honored him with a stamp.

"Yip Harburg, lyricist of The Wizard of Oz film, would have been amused that "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead" rose to the top of the charts when Margaret Thatcher died. W.S. Gilbert and George Bernard Shaw taught Yip Harburg, democratic socialist, sworn challenger of all tyranny against the people, that "humor is an act of courage" and dissent. Those who sang the song "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead" in the film The Wizard of Oz celebrated the end of tyranny at the hands of the Wicked Witch of the East. That celebration was not in L. Frank Baum's book. Yip's artistic leadership put it into the film. (Yip also brought the rainbow, also not in the book, into the film.)

Yip said "Humor is the antidote to tyranny" and "Show me a place without humor and I'll show you a disaster area." Yip believed tyranny is caused by the policies of "austerity," "imperialism," "theocracy" and "class supremacy," which deny most people human rights and economic freedom from poverty and want. A song - music and lyrics - allows singers and audiences to "feel the thought" of the lyric. "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead" is a universal cry against the cruelty of tyrants AND a protest against the ban on laughter at that cruelty. For the 99%, laughing and joy are required at the funeral of a tyrant. According to Yip, humor gives us hope in hard times."

- ERNIE HARBURG